HEMSWORTH MP Jon Trickett is calling for public meetings to be held over proposals to close Hemsworth and South Elmsall Fire Stations.
In September, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service announced plans to replace both stations with one in South Kirkby, possibly on Hemsworth Road.
The authority faces budget cuts of up to £18m over the next four years and believes the major service change - which would see five new stations built in West Yorkshire - could help to save a vital £4m a year.
It also considers Hemsworth and South Elmsall to be “low-risk” areas where demand for services has fallen over the last five years.
A public consultation is currently underway but Mr Trickett said the service needed to hold public meetings in Hemsworth and South Elmsall to ensure local residents can have their say.
In a response to the consultation, he expressed concerns that the closures could negatively impact on response times in the area. He also called on the authority to clarify whether the plans are motivated by fire safety or financial constraints.
Mr Trickett said: “I urge everyone to take part in this consultation process. While I have called on the fire authority to organise public meetings it is important that people make written submissions to the fire authority.”
A spokesman for the service said that some stations were now half as busy as they were a few years ago, but the number of stations and level of cover was the same as when the brigade was formed in 1974.
He added: “On top of that, many of the stations we inherited from the old West Riding and county boroughs are now clearly no longer in the ideal place given population shift.
“While piecemeal change so far has brought significant economies and improved effectiveness the prospect of losing up to £18m in central government grants over the next four years meant the pace of reform had to accelerate.
“We have already had several local meetings over the draft Hemsworth/South Elmsall proposal, including meetings with South Kirkby and Moorthorpe Town Council and the Hemsworth District Partnership. More are in the pipeline.
“We note Mr Trickett’s concerns and will meet with him at any time to discuss them in greater detail and provide reassurance. Meanwhile, we would be more than happy to work with Jon to ensure that any wider public meetings are organised to best effect.”
The consultation closes on Friday, December 9. Documents can be viewed at www.west yorksfire.gov.uk and submissions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or Stephen Hardy, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority, Oakroyd Hall, Bradford, Birkenshaw, BD11 2DY.